Coast Guard emphasizes importance of San Clemente Island safety zones

The Coast Guard reminds mariners to always navigate carefully around the restricted waters surrounding San Clemente Island.

A federally-enforced safety zone surrounding San Clemente Island protects mariners from hazardous military training operations, including live artillery fire, that occur on and around the island.

In September 2014, the commercial fishing vessel Cat Dive went aground near Wilson Cove, on San Clemente Island, while transiting a permanently restricted waterway without authorization. The vessel owner was fined $500 for entering and operating within the safety zone.

When unauthorized vessels are detected within the safety zones, they are contacted via VHF marine-band radio Channel 82 or 16 and notified to leave the limited access area and when the area will be reopened. For violators of the safety zone, the Coast Guard may send a letter of warning noting the violation, and informing them that they may be fined for subsequent safety zone violations.

“San Clemente Island is the only place off of the West Coast where the military can conduct integrated ship-to-shore and air-to-surface, amphibious, and littoral special- warfare live-fire training,” said Lt. Cmdr. John Bannon, chief of waterways, Coast Guard Sector San Diego. “Safety zone incursions cost the military thousands of dollars in lost training time that cannot be replicated at other training venues.”

Information on San Clemente Island safety zones, including daily schedules and how to request permission to transit restricted areas is located at scisland.org. Mariners may be fined up to $40,000 per incident for violating the safety zone. The permanent regulation in place for San Clemente Island is found in U.S. Code of Federal Regulations (33 CFR 165.1141).

For more information about San Clemente Island waterway access, please contact Lt. Cmdr. John Bannon, at (619) 278-7261 or at John.E.Bannon@uscg.mil.

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